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Alboin And Rosamond
by [?]

Of the Teutonic invaders of Italy none are invested with more interest than the Lombards,–the Long Beards, to give them their original title. Legend yields us the story of their origin, a story of interest enough to repeat. A famine had been caused in Denmark by a great flood, and the people, to avoid danger of starvation, had resolved to put all the old men and women to death, in order to save the food for the young and strong. This radical proposition was set aside through the advice of a wise woman, named Gambara, who suggested that lots should be drawn for the migration of a third of the population. Her counsel was taken and the migration began, under the leadership of her two sons. These migrants wore beards of prodigious length, whence their subsequent name.

They first entered the land of the Vandals, who refused them permission to settle. This was a question to be decided at sword’s point, and war was declared. Both sides appealed to the gods for aid, Gambara praying to Freya, while the Vandals invoked Odin, who answered that he would grant the victory to the party he should first behold at the dawn of the coming day.

The day came. The sun rose. In front of the Danish host were stationed their women, who had loosened their long hair, and let it hang down over their faces. “Who are these with long beards?” demanded Odin, on seeing these Danish amazons. This settled the question of victory, and also gave the invaders a new name, that of Longobardi,–due, in this legend, to the long hair of the women instead of the long beards of the men. There are other legends, but none worth repeating.

The story of their king Alboin, with whom we have particularly to deal, begins, however, with a story which may be in part legendary. They were now in hostile relations with the Gepidae, the first nation to throw off the yoke of the Huns. Alboin, son of Audoin, king of the Longobardi, killed Thurismund, son of Turisend, king of the Gepidae, in battle, but forgot to carry away his arms, and thus returned home without a trophy of his victory. In consequence, his stern father refused him a seat at his table, as one unworthy of the honor. Such was the ancient Lombard custom, and it must be obeyed.

The young prince acknowledged the justice of this reproof, and determined to try and obtain the arms which were his by right of victory. Selecting forty companions, he boldly visited the court of Turisend, and openly demanded from him the arms of his son. It was a daring movement, but proved successful. The old king received him hospitably, as the custom of the time demanded, though filled with grief at the loss of his son. He even protected him from the anger of his subjects, whom some of the Lombards had provoked by their insolence of speech. The daring youth returned to his father’s court with the arms of his slain foe, and won the seat of honor of which he had been deprived.

Turisend died, and Cunimund, his son, became king. Audoin died, and Alboin became king. And now new adventures of interest occurred. In his visit to the court of Turisend, Alboin had seen and fallen in love with Rosamond, the beautiful daughter of Cunimund. He now demanded her hand in marriage, and as it was scornfully refused him, he revenged himself by winning her honor through force and stratagem. War broke out in consequence, and the Gepidae were conquered, Rosamond falling to Alboin as part of the trophies of victory.

We are told that in this war Alboin sought the aid of Bacan, chagan of the Avars, promising him half the spoil and all the land of the Gepidae in case of victory. He added to this a promise of the realm of the Longobardi, in case he should succeed in winning for them a new home in Italy, which country he proposed to invade.